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Board of Governors Meeting Preview – December 2021

The following items are up for action or discussion at the December 2, 2021, meeting of the Board of Governors as of today; changes may occur before the meeting. Please contact your board representative(s) if you have any input or questions. This Florida Bar News article provides additional details.

The board will hear a report from the Special Committee for the Review of Professionalism in Florida that was directed to “study and recommend ways to improve the definition, teaching, and enforcement of professionalism standards.” One area of focus will be local professionalism panels and their lack of uniform procedures. The committee also reviewed the professionalism standards themselves to see if they can be improved, or better promoted. In addition, an education subcommittee has been reviewing the continuing legal education requirements for professionalism.

The board is expected to consider a proposed rules amendment that would allow retired Bar members to continue using the honorific, “Esquire,” or “Member, Florida Bar,” but they would have to indicate their status. The proposed amendment to Rule 1-3.5 (Retirement), would add a new subsection that states “Retired members must affirmatively represent their retired status when any statement of Florida Bar membership is made, e.g., when in writing, Esquire (Ret.) or Member, Florida Bar (Ret.)”

Another provision of the proposed amendment clarifies that, although retired attorneys are prohibited from practicing law, they may be certified as an emeritus lawyer under Chapter 12 for activities permitted under Chapter 12.

Also on the agenda is review of a Standing Committee on advertising decision on whether the use of a client who is a law enforcement officer to provide testimonials in three television advertisements which the client identifies himself as a law enforcement officer violates Rule 4-7.15(b), which prohibits advertisements that “use an authority figure, such as a judge or law enforcement officer… to endorse or recommend the lawyer or act as spokesperson for the lawyer.” The board has several advertising appeals on the agenda.

In other action, the board is expected to weigh:

  • Proposed amendments to Standing Board Policy 8.20 (Responses to Bar Rules Petitions) to clarify that a Bar division, section, or committee must notify the Bar’s executive director when joining comments of another group in addition to when filing alone.
  • Proposed amendments to Standing Board Policy 8.10 (Amicus Curiae Filings) to clarify that a Bar section must notify the Bar’s executive director when joining comments of another group in addition to when filing alone.

The board is also scheduled to have its final meeting considering the recommendations of the Supreme Court’s Special Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services. The remaining recommendations to be considered include the Special Committee’s proposal to allow Florida Registered Paralegals to perform more legal services while under a lawyer’s supervision, to allow not-for-profit legal service providers to organize as a corporation and to have nonlawyer board members, and the recommendation to create a legal lab to test new ways of providing legal services. The Special Committee’s recommendations regarding non-lawyer ownership of law firms, and fee splitting with nonlawyers were rejected unanimously by the board at its November 8 meeting. Read this Bar News article to learn more about what was decided at that meeting.